Greetings again, Weekend Warriors! Moving to London entails a number of things, not least of which should be an enthusiastic desire to understand the culture and history of this city and the admiral United Kingdom in which it resides. So to continue our exploration of the nation’s monarchs, last week we met John, who signed the Magna Carta into being. Upon John’s death, the kingdom is handed over to his son, a wee lad who is the first to reign as a minor.
What’s his name? Henry III. And how old is he exactly? Nine. This clearly does not do for ruling a country, so Henry III sits tight for eighteen more years while regencies administer in his place. When he does finally take over in 1234, with the throne comes an inheritance of baronial feistiness. The original Magna Carta has paved the way for continued assertion of written rights for the citizenry as well as restrictions placed on the monarchy by holding it just as accountable to feudal law as anyone else; subsequent versions of the document are thus reissued. The barons declare themselves counselors to the king and seek to decentralize decision-making such that it isn’t all under his discretion; the Exchequer and Chancery are accordingly rendered separate entities from the rest of government. There is also a communal spirit arising as citizens seek unification of the nation’s various villages and estates.
As these buds of nationalism begin to emerge into the sunlight, like his predecessors, Henry angers the population with high taxes to fund war campaigns and the growing Church’s extravagant expenditures. He further grants positions and other benefits to foreigners, thereby alienating English citizens and escalating matters to what we shall see when we continue our Weekend Warrior series next Sunday!
Related London sightseeing: King Henry III’s tomb at Westminster Abbey.